Introducing novel ways to keep the excitement alive when it comes to airport and rail station F&B is SSP’s forte. And the company’s UK team is currently giving passengers in Britain plenty to impress.
A wine school, run by Essi Avellan (pictured), Finland’s first Master of Wine, and one of the world’s leading experts on sparkling wines has been launched. This will explore the major wine regions of the world, helping staff to develop their knowledge and love of wine.
There’s also a series of new product development sessions hosted at Helsinki’s hip cocktail lounge A21, which regularly features on the lists of the world’s best bars. This is enabling staff to become truly engaged with the products they serve and the exciting items that could be on tomorrow’s menu.
The warrant, which was first awarded to the company in 2007, was granted for the highest standards of service, logistics and product supply. This year, the new grant also required the company to demonstrate its environmental credentials.
Once a rarity in the US, independent and local restaurants are now top of the wish list of all American airports of standing. Over the next twelve months, SSP will open 80 new outlets across the US, 30 of which are local businesses. SSP’s Pat Murray is a dab hand at introducing stars of a local culinary scene to the complex world of the international airport, and he shared some of the secrets of his success.
In a service business such as ours, a company is only as good as the people who work for it. SSP’s multi-site leadership training programme is one of the mainstays of its ongoing quest to ensure that its people are the very best. It has been running since 2008, and since that time, many of its graduates have risen from promising future stars to drive impressive successes in all corners of the business.
What makes the catering profession such an exciting business?
One word: people. It’s the Smörgåsbord of personalities we both employ and serve that drives the excitement. Next to getting shot at and missed, there’s not a more exciting business. In the long run what are we but stewards of special moments in people’s lives?
What are the most important things catering managers need to remember?
Firstly, when you hire great people, great things will happen. Secondly service is the invisible product.
There was cause for celebration at SSP UK earlier this Autumn when the 500th recruit joined the company’s apprenticeship scheme.
The programme, launched in the summer of 2010, aims to support future stars of the catering business on the first steps of their career.
‘Catering is not often young people’s first choice of career, and yet we have a large demand for skilled staff,’ says Christine Holland, national apprenticeship manager. ‘By providing a structured framework for training and career progression, our apprenticeship scheme allows young people to learn while they earn and has enabled us to recruit and retain a number of really excellent team members.’
SSP has agreed a deal to take over the operation of seven additional Starbucks coffee shops across the UK and Northern Ireland at London Heathrow, Glasgow, Manchester and Belfast International airports.
This takes the number of Starbucks stores operated by SSP in the UK to 31. Kris Engskov, UK MD of Starbucks, said; ‘Starbucks has been working with SSP for many years in the UK and Europe and it’s clear that their expertise in travel locations puts them in the best position to grow the Starbucks business in these airport stores. Customers will continue to receive the same fantastic customer service and exceptional coffee that they have become accustomed to when visiting any Starbucks store.’
Caffè Ritazza’s newly opened outlets at Xi’an Xianyang Airport, Valencia Airport and Stockholm Central Station all feature elements of the brand’s travelisation process.
‘We’ve introduced a range of new features designed to dramatically improve the experience for the travelling consumer,’ says Stuart Coombes, international operations director of Caffè Ritazza. ‘At our new stores, we’ve introduced design constituents such as enhanced information services and travel tips, flexible seating, unique travelised packaging or wi-fi and power supplies. Each has been selected to be suitable for that particular environment, be that rail or air, landside or airside.’
It’s been just four short years since the company that is now known as SSPAmerica was launched. In that time, its success has been phenomenal. During the last eight months alone, the company has secured a number of significant new slices of business, which will see the opening of 70 new outlets across the country by the end of 2013, with major development projects underway at Phoenix and San Diego (where SSP has recently won significant new contracts), and JFK and Toronto Pearson airports (which are currently undergoing substantial redevelopment).